Increased crowds for Sri Lanka and Pakistan white-ball matches approved by UK government

Currently, crowds for outdoor sports events are capped at 25 per cent or 10,000, whichever is smaller but plans are afoot to raise that figure

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England men's cricket fixtures - summer 2021: Full schedule and dates

English cricket hit by four-week delay to full lifting of lockdown

The ECB have successfully applied for an increase in crowd numbers for England men's upcoming white-ball matches against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Fans attending outdoor sports events are capped at 25 per cent or 10,000, whichever is smaller - unless part of the events research programme.

Talks are now ongoing with the government and local stakeholders regarding how many fans will be permitted to attend.

The initial focus is on the one-day internationals against Sri Lanka (June 29, July 1 and 4) at Emirates Riverside, Kia Oval and Bristol - where 50 per cent attendance is being targetted - and there is hope the scheme can be extended for all six matches against Pakistan.

The T20s against Sri Lanka (June 23, 24 and 26) in Cardiff and Southampton will not be involved in the project.

As many as 18,000 spectators attended the first three days of the second Test between England and New Zealand at Edgbaston, which was part of a raft of pilot events.

Fans were asked to present a negative Covid-19 lateral flow test result, taken within 24 hours before the start of play to gain entry. Once inside the venue, masks were only mandatory in the concourses and there were no limits on social distancing.

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The Sri Lanka ODIs are the first matches involved in the scheme

A four-week delay to the full lifting of lockdown restrictions, postponed from June 21 to July 19, had threatened to see only partial crowds attend matches across England during the fulcrum of the summer.

The development is great news for ticket holders who have now been given a second chance to attend the limited-overs matches.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "Summer is all about cricket and I’m delighted to be able to include England’s upcoming ODI and IT20 series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan in our pioneering Events Research Programme.

"With thanks to our tremendous vaccine rollout and massive uptake of the NHS App we will be able to welcome back far greater numbers of cricket fans to Durham, Bristol and The Oval.

"We will continue to do everything we can to get as many as possible back watching live sport and cultural events as safely and as quickly as possible."

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